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BAE Systems AI Upskills Employees to Meet Customer Demand for AWS Expertise

BAE Systems Applied Intelligence (BAE Systems AI), a division of multinational arms, security, and aerospace company BAE Systems, needed to upskill its workforce to meet customer demand for cloud-based solutions. Many of its customers specifically sought Amazon Web Services (AWS) expertise. BAE Systems AI had skilled staff prior to 2020, but the division needed more engineering talent to effectively respond to a surge in demand across the customer base.

Looking to upskill a large number of employees quickly, BAE Systems AI sought aid from AWS Select Consulting Partner QA, a tech skills and talent organization in the United Kingdom. The division wanted to take advantage of QA’s experience in facilitating AWS Training and Certification, which helps participants build and validate their skills so that they can get more out of the cloud. QA, which serves a wide range of private and public sector customers, created customized course offerings to help train BAE Systems AI’s staff, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ongoing AWS Training from QA is enabling BAE Systems AI to upskill and onboard employees, retain customers, and win new business.

Cybersecurity control room

The AWS Training from QA enables us to present our market position to customers by demonstrating our teams’ AWS expertise."

Phil Armitage
Head of Systems Engineering and Architecture Profession, 
BAE Systems Applied Intelligence

Rapid Implementation of Large-Scale Targeted Training

BAE Systems delivers a full range of products and services for air, land, and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology, and customer support worldwide. As an AWS Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network, BAE Systems has deep technical expertise and demonstrated success working with a large number of AWS customers to deploy AWS solutions at scale. BAE Systems AI, a division of the company, provides consultancy-services products and helps customers solve complex cybersecurity problems across a variety of sectors, including defense, national security, government, and financial services.
“We’re increasingly seeing demand for AWS expertise across our customer base,” says Phil Armitage, head of systems engineering and architecture profession at BAE Systems AI. To meet the rising demand and to satisfy the terms of AWS Premier Consulting Partnership in the United States, BAE Systems AI offered AWS Training and Certification to 300 of its 3,000 employees—but the division needed a way to plan, organize, and implement the training quickly and efficiently. “It can be difficult for people to look at a wide range of digital training courses and determine which ones are relevant to them,” says Armitage. To streamline the process, BAE Systems AI contracted QA, known for delivering 70 percent of cloud training in the United Kingdom. QA arranged appropriate course offerings aligned with two primary learning pathways: one for architects and one for developers.
The Architect pathway provides a prescriptive path to help learners become proficient in building and optimizing information technology infrastructure on AWS by understanding how AWS services fit into cloud-based solutions. The path begins with an introductory course called AWS Technical Essentials, which covers terminology and concepts related to AWS, explains how to navigate the AWS Management Console—a secure web-based portal for managing AWS resources—and provides an overview of foundational AWS services and security measures. Intermediate coursework covers the fundamentals of building information technology infrastructure on AWS and prepares students for initial AWS Certification, an industry-recognized credential across 12 role- and solution-focused areas. Advanced coursework expands the knowledge of individuals who already have experience with designing applications on AWS.
The Developer pathway targets software development and covers how to use AWS Software Development Kits (AWS SDKs) to develop secure and scalable cloud applications. More advanced coursework covers how to refactor legacy applications into a serverless microservices architecture.
QA originally offered in-person courses with a remote option, which enabled employees in different locations to attend. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, BAE Systems AI and QA had to quickly pivot to virtual learning, but having the hybrid model as a foundation helped facilitate the change. QA ran multiple courses each month for BAE Systems AI from March–November 2020. Approximately 16 people filled each course, whereas in the past, BAE Systems AI could only train two or three employees at a time. “QA made the move from physical to virtual training effortless when our customers needed our support more than ever. AWS Training was and still is pivotal to that support,” says Armitage. BAE Systems AI plans for QA to run more classes for its staff in 2021.

Training Opportunities Open Doors to New Projects

QA successfully contextualized BAE Systems AI’s needs into targeted training courses and pathways designed especially for the division. “We held those as private BAE Systems AI events,” says Armitage. “The private training sessions helped people discuss specific questions aligned to what we experience as a division.” As of April 2021, 300 BAE Systems AI employees have been through training, and a number have earned AWS Certifications, with more being awarded on an ongoing basis. “We are planning to train a similar number of employees in 2021,” says Armitage. Moving forward, BAE Systems AI also plans to focus more training on the Developer pathway and additional opportunities in SysOps, business essentials, DevOps, and other topics.

High-quality training opportunities not only create a highly skilled workforce but also increase employee satisfaction and retention by enabling upward job mobility, which in turn facilitates increased retention. The training pathways also make it possible for new hires to get up to speed quickly and efficiently. “Everyone was impressed by the delivery of the courses,” says Armitage. “The feedback from employees has been extremely positive. I can’t praise it enough.”

In addition to boosting employee satisfaction, BAE Systems AI has increased its ability to attract prospective clients that want to see AWS Certification. “Customers in the national security sector are starting to recognize the importance of the cloud and are migrating less-sensitive workloads into that space,” says Armitage. These customers require expert assistance to do so successfully. The number of trained and certified employees at BAE Systems AI increases potential customers’ confidence in BAE Systems AI’s ability to meet their needs. “We’re in a better position to go to market and bid against other companies,” says Armitage. “BAE Systems AI now has around 22 projects running on AWS, which is not a trivial thing.”

Skilled Employees, Satisfied Customers

With even more training from QA planned for the near future, BAE Systems AI intends to remain competitive in a marketplace that demands cloud-ready solutions. It also expects employee and customer satisfaction to further increase. “The AWS Training from QA enables us to present our market position to customers by demonstrating our teams’ AWS expertise,” says Armitage. “We’re already seeing high customer satisfaction with what we’ve delivered using AWS technology.”

About BAE Systems Applied Intelligence

Based in the United Kingdom, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence is a division of international defense, aerospace, and security company BAE Systems, which delivers products and services for air, land, and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology, and customer support.

Benefits of AWS

  • Trained 300 employees in less than 1 year
  • Enables trained employees to take AWS Certification exams
  • Facilitates retention and onboarding of employees
  • Attracts new customers because of employees’ AWS skills

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